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Assam town 'lost' to Bangladesh - Times of India

Gurmukh Singh ()
31 December 1996

Title : Assam town 'lost' to Bangladesh
Author : Gurmukh Singh
Publication : Times of India
Date : December 31, 1996

DHUBRI (Assam): The mere mention of this town evokes bitter reactions
from any son-ofthe-soil Assamese. "Oh, Dhubri? It's been lost to
Bangladesh!"

This last Assamese district, bifurcated by the Brahmaputra, has
virtually become an extension of Bangladesh because of the continuing
influx from across the border.

A police official admits that from post number 1001 to 1067 in this
district, the highly porous 260-km-long Bangladesh border has become the
gateway for migration into Assam, altering the demographic ratio in
Kamrup, Dhubri, Goalpara and Nalbari districts.

"Shoot at sight orders and curfew at night serve little purpose as there
are very few watch towers," he explains. For such a highly open border
there is only one watch tower over a distance of one-and-a-half
kilometres.

Compounding the problem of patrolling is the 70-km-wide Brahmaputra and
a large unfenced area on both sides of the river.

"This is truly a great problem. Though we have 50 watercraft keeping
round-the-clock vigil on the river, this area is too vast and some
people might still be slipping in. Another big problem is the river
islands where infiltrators and smugglers carrying salt, cattle, kerosene
and logs to Bangladesh take shelter. But there is very little
infiltration as our 19 posts on these islands maintain a constantvigil.
One company of 150 BSF jawans mans one post," claims R. D. Sharma, in
charge of water operations on the Brahmaputra.

Senior superintendent of police K. K. Sharma says: "Ours is an uphill
task. Policing such a vast riverine area is next to impossible. Even
in the unfenced land area, there are a lot of entry points as you can't
cover all the lakes and rivulets.



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